Clark County Prepares To Clamp Down On Short-Term Rentals In The Las Vegas Valley



July 8th, 2022

Short-term rentals could soon become scarce in parts of the Las Vegas Valley.

At a June 21 meeting, Clark County leaders unanimously approved a new ordinance designed to reduce the number of short-term rentals from approximately 10,000 to about 2,800 on lands under its jurisdiction.

The new regulations cap the total number of licenses for short-term rentals—an accommodation available 30 days or less—at 1% of the total residences in each unincorporated area.

“I think that the whole thing is overwhelming to us, because our Code Enforcement structure is not set up in a way that enables 10,000 licensees all to be regulated,” Clark County Board of Commissioners Chair Jim Gibson tells the Weekly. “I would say the 1% was a beginning point.”

At the meeting, Gibson and Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick also raised concerns about the cost of enforcement. Gibson says it’s likely further discussions will take place to determine how the county will finance enforcement of the law, which entails staffing a 24-hour hotline and sending Code Enforcement officers to respond to neighborhood complaints.

The ordinance was required to be in place by July 1, per a law passed by the Nevada Legislature last year. Henderson, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas have had regulations for short-term rentals on the books for several years. Clark County has previously outlawed them.

Nevada Assembly Bill 363 (AB363) requires jurisdictions to define short-term rentals as “transient lodging,” making them subject to the same taxes hotels charge guests, in the 10% to 14% range, depending on the type of property.

That law also aims to hold bad hosts and hosting platforms accountable. Many members of the public and officials called for more restrictions after noise complaints, fights and even shootings at short-term rentals attracted increased attention from police and local news outlets in 2020.

During the June 21 meeting, county staff pointed to a December survey of nearly 6,000 residents, including short-term rental hosts. More than 80% of respondents said the ordinance should include a provision that would allow a host’s license to be suspended or revoked if that host received a certain number of complaints, and 76% supported limiting the number of guests to 16 or fewer during one stay.

New Rules

Per the county’s new regulations, short-term rental property owners must be individuals 18 and older, or business entities or trusts comprising individuals 18 and older. Property owners can operate and hold a license for no more than one short-term rental at a time.

The regulations permit no more than two guests per bedroom and 10 total guests at a single short-term rental. Parties, weddings and events are prohibited, and guests must book for a minimum of two nights.

In Bunkerville, Mesquite, Moapa, Moapa Valley and Mount Charleston townships, short-term rentals are not permitted. RVs, trailers, mobile homes, apartments and subsidized housing are not eligible to become licensed as short-term rentals.

Properties within 2,500 feet of a resort hotel or within 1,000 feet of an existing short-term rental are not eligible to be licensed, per the ordinance.

Clark County has 30 days to notify unlicensed operators their short-term rentals must become licensed; after that, they risk fees, a misdemeanor citation or other legal damages.

The county’s application period is expected to run from September through March. At the end of that six-month period, applicants will be selected at random. At that point, they must pay $45 application fees, $150 inspection fees and licensing fees ranging from $750 to $1,500, depending on the number of bedrooms in the home.

Community Impact

Shortly before county commissioners approved the ordinance, Las Vegas resident Julie Davies—who operates short-term rentals in other states—commented that the six-month period is too long to wait to select and review applications. Davies, who has written and taught classes about best practices for short-term rental operators, says a first-come, first-served format would attract hosts who are more responsible and more likely to be compliant with regulations.

Davies also takes issue with the 1% of housing inventory cap on short-term rentals. She says a rate based more on current demand for short-term rentals would make compliance more attainable, and enforcement easier. And she says she suspects that investors who have no presence or stake in the community will still be able to operate in Clark County, regardless of the ordinance.

“The county mentality is always to just start small,” she says. “And then, we’ll add more later, and it’ll be fine. But there will be irreparable damage to small business owners.”

Jacqueline Flores, co-founder of the Greater Las Vegas Short Term Rental Association, urged the board to consider the impact on working families, especially those making up for lost income during the pandemic. “They all want to get licensed and pay taxes,” Flores told commissioners, “but these regulations also make it so that 80% of the applicants do not get a license to operate.”

Commissioners, short-term rental hosts and the public still have questions about the efficacy of the ordinance—namely, will it achieve the goals of neighborhood safety and holding platforms and bad operators accountable, as the state law intended.

At the June 21 meeting, Kirkpatrick vocalized doubts that hosting platforms would cooperate with county regulations, based on past conduct, especially when it comes to taking down advertisements of unlicensed or non-compliant rentals. “None of them should be on a website, bottom line,” she said. “They’ve been illegal forever. We’ve never allowed it, even when the cities did. We’ve had this with many platforms who don’t ever comply, and now we’re stuck.”

In a statement, a Clark County spokesman said hosting platforms have indicated they will continue to work with county staff on implementing the ordinance, which requires hosting platforms to display license numbers and maximum occupancy information in advertisements, and work with Code Enforcement to take down advertisements for properties that are found to be unlicensed or noncompliant.

“Expedia/VRBO has expressed their intent to work with Clark County on implementation,” the spokesman emailed the Weekly. “The County has been also approached by Airbnb regarding the process to remove advertisements. The process built into the ordinance for removing advertisements upon notice from the County is the same process in place across the country and both Airbnb and Expedia indicated they work with local governments with similar regulations,” the statement reads.


*Story originally appeared on by Shannon Miller


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